Olena Peleshenko

Olena Peleshenko

Research Fellow

Contact: olena.peleshenko@ukma.edu.ua


Olena Peleshenko is a philologist. She received her PhD in theory, history of literature and comparative studies from the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, thesis “Walking to Paradise as a Genre of Ukrainian Medieval Literature”.

Her main areas of research are: Ukrainian medieval literature in a European context, representation of the Middle Ages in 20th-century literature, postcolonial studies, memory studies, genre theory, intertextuality, gender studies, utopia, and apocrypha.

Olena currently works as a leading specialist on the Department of Literature, NaUKMA, and translator in the Publishing House “Dukh i Litera” (Kyiv). In addition to her academic work, Olena Peleshenko is a freelance content writer and a literary critic, i.e in the Publishing house “Vihola” and “Krytyka”. Also Olena Peleshenko is a poet who participated in a number of Ukrainian and International poetry competitions and won the second prize award at International literature competition by the Publishing House “Smoloskyp” (2021).

During her EUTIM research stay at the European University Viadrina she is working on the following topic:

Apocryphal Journeys to the Earthly Paradise in Ukrainian Literature on the Crossroad between Eastern and Western Christianity

The project is devoted to apocryphal Christian apocalypses of early Byzantine origin dedicated to the theme of an extremely difficult and voluntary mortal’s journey to the earthly paradise – “The Walk of Agapios to Paradise”, “The Walk of Zosima to Rahman”, and “The Tale of Macarius of Rome”. In the territory of Kyivan Rus’ the earliest known translation into Old Church Slavonic was found in the Uspensky Codex of the 12th century. Despite the fact Byzantine “paradisal” apocryphal narratives were spread mostly in East Christian communities, they were well-known the Catholic West in the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance. Fragments of “paradisal” apocrypha can be found not only in East and South Slavic manuscripts, but also in Latin, Armenian, Georgian, Arabic, and French translations.

The main purpose of the research project is to detect common motifs of Eastern and Western apocryphal tales about holy men on miracle islands by using the tools of philosophical epistemology, phenomenology, receptive aesthetics, the theory of intertextuality, and deconstruction. The focus is placed on Ukrainian redactions of medieval apocryphal and hagiographical texts devoted the journey of the righteous man to the Garden of Eden. Special attention is given to the reception mechanisms of Greek “paradisal” pilgrimages in Ukrainian literature and the forms of representation of motif of the journey to the earthly paradise in Ukrainian literature of the 19th – 20th (Ivan Franko’s poem “The Death of Cain” (1888), Mykola Kulish’s play “The People’s Malakhiy” (1927), Valeriy Shevchuk’s novel “Eye of the Abyss” (1995).